Jumping rope is easy, right? After all, it is, quite literally, child’s play. Which is why many adults have a rude awakening when they try again it for the first time since their age was measured in single digits.
“It came naturally when you were a child, and now you have to relearn the timing and rhythm,” says Jason Strout, head coach at New York City’s Church Street Boxing Gym. “Your body is bigger. It can feel really awkward at first.” Just don’t give up. Jumping rope is great cardio, whether it’s used as a warm-up, an active rest between strength-training sets, or even a full workout all on its own.
Once you get better at jumping rope, you can really mix it up with time intervals, fancy footwork, criss-crosses, and more. (Check out Tony Horton’s 10-minute routine for inspiration.)
7 Tips for Getting Better at Jump Rope
How to ensure the right rope length
Stand on the center of the rope with feet shoulder-width apart. The handles should come to waist height when your elbows are bent out to the sides. Too long or too short a rope and you’ll be more likely to trip.
Do a dry run-through
To get a feel for the timing, start by holding both handles in one hand and practice swinging the rope along one side of you, hopping as it comes down.
It’s all in the wrists
Most people try to overswing the rope and rely on their shoulders, moving their entire arms up and down as they jump. Don’t be one of them. Hold the jump rope with your elbows bent and tucked into your sides, and let your wrists do most of the work. The action is very small and controlled, and as concentrated as a flick of the wrist.
Maintain a low altitude
Another common mistake is to jump too high. You just want to get enough air so the rope slips under your feet. Keep your knees soft and stay on the balls of your feet, using them like a springboard. Sore calves are somewhat expected.
Take it slow
Trying to go warp speed is a surefire way to get all tangled up. It’s not a race, especially if your plan is to jump for more than three minutes without stopping.
Nail the footwork
Strout recommends shifting your weight slightly from side to side with each hop. This means less pounding for your legs and can be helpful when it comes to finding your rhythm.
Measure your progress
Challenge yourself to complete 10 jumps, then 20, then 30 without stopping. Once you can jump for a minute without tripping, break out the timer and jump rope for two minutes, then five minutes… a half hour! “Or make it a game,” suggests Strout. “Challenge someone else to jump with you until one of you trips up.”
Regardless of how you start jumping rope, keep it up and add duration to blast more fat and tone your lower body.
Try this 10-Minute Jump Rope Workout From Tony Horton
Perform each move for one minute, progressing through all five in circuit fashion, and transitioning between them with minimal rest. Perform two rounds.
KICKS (00:50 mark)
- Stand with the jump rope behind your heels.
- Swing the rope overhead and hop over the rope with your right foot.
- As the rope comes around again, hop over the rope with your right foot again, and kick your left foot forward.
- On the next revolution, hop over the rope with your left foot.
- On the next revolution, hop over the rope with your left foot again, kicking your right foot forward.
- Continue this sequence—hop, kick, hop, kick—for 60 seconds.
- Continue jumping, this time with your feet parallel in alignment and hips’ width apart.
- Continue for 60 seconds.
TOE TAPS (2:52)
- Continue jumping, stepping one foot back and tapping the toes to the floor on each revolution as you come down on the ball of the forward foot.
- Alternate feet for 60 seconds.
Optional: do a few reps on one foot, then on the other.
ALTERNATING SINGLE LEG JUMPS (3:52)
- Continue jumping, performing 10 hops over the rope with your right foot, then 10 with your left, for a total of 60 seconds.
- Return to the feet-together pattern (“Singles,” above), this time going as fast as possible while maintaining good form.